Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says the government is working on easing coronavirus restrictions. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS


Victorians to know virus roadmap ‘soon’

2020-08-27 16:53:29

Victorians will know the road map out of coronavirus restrictions “soon” as key statistics keep showing the state is subduing its second outbreak.

While Thursday’s 23 deaths are the third-highest daily total in Australia, new cases numbers dropped to 113 and that’s the lowest figure since July 5.

Another big development was the daily tests number soaring back to 25,470 after several days of figures well under 20,000.

Premier Daniel Andrews has said repeatedly that health authorities need the daily test number to stay high so they can keep a handle on what is happening with the second outbreak.

While Mr Andrews repeatedly refused to give any specifics, he said on Thursday that the government is working on how to ease current restrictions.

“We quite soon hope to be able to give people a roadmap, a clear plan about what coming out of stage four looks like, what opening up looks like, what finding COVID-normal looks like,” he said.

“I appreciate and understand how very deeply challenging this is.”

Melbourne’s stage-four lockdown and the stage-three restrictions for regional Victorians are due to end on September 13.

Mr Andrews said the state would not have to wait until September 12 to find out about what the transition out of those restrictions would look like.

He added there would be a “singular focus” on jobs.

Victoria is in the depths of lockdown fatigue, with police vowing to end daily protests that have happened this week in suburban Broadmeadows.

But data from the Coroners Court shows the Victorian suicide rate has not increased so far this year, despite concerns about the toll that the coronavirus and lockdowns are taking on mental health.

A Roy Morgan poll released on Thursday also showed that large majorities of Victorians support government restrictions such as mandatory mask wearing and Melbourne’s 8pm-5am curfew.

There was a more even split on whether Melbourne residents should be able to visit the homes of immediate family members, with 43 per cent opposing the measure.

While Mr Andrews can offer hope about the easing of restrictions, his government’s bid to extend the state of emergency by 12 months is doomed.

A six-month compromise is now more likely as negotiations with crossbenchers continue.

As the prime minister welcomed greater clarity around the state Labor government’s bid to extend the state of emergency, prominent crossbencher Fiona Patten reiterated there was no way the 12-month proposal would pass parliament.

Mr Andrews did not say on Thursday if his government will compromise on its push for a 12-month state of emergency extension.

The state of emergency is also due to end on September 13 after being in place for six months and under current legislation, it cannot run any longer.

The government was forced into damage control after Mr Andrews’ announcement on Monday that it would push for the 12-month extension when parliament sits next week.

There was widespread opposition to the proposal and the government quickly realised it didn’t have the crucial crossbench support it needed for the legislation to pass, prompting the ongoing talks.

“We’ve been, as we always do, engaging with them (crossbenchers) in good faith, and those discussions are progressing very well,” Mr Andrews said.

“I’m not going to be commenting on negotiations that are ongoing.”

Asked about the potential for more parliamentary oversight of the state of emergency, Mr Andrews replied: “I have no problem with that at all.”